All my life I've loved Scottish Terriers. I love their tall ears, the way their chest juts forward, and their handsome beards and kilts.
Thirteen years ago, I was working for a printing company. I mentioned to one of my coworkers that I loved Scotties and he proudly told me that his mother bred them. She sold them for about $500, which was a lot for us then. But knowing my lifelong dream to own one, my wife suggested we get one for Christmas. The kids would be ecstatic. Plans were all set for us to drive down Christmas day and pick up my new puppy.
Then we woke to a white Christmas.
A serious white Christmas.
Still, a bonnie Scottie was waiting for me so I went out to shovel the falling stone. Before I'd finished the driveway, another inch lay where I'd already shoveled. My wife came out and gave me a look that signaled apology and disappointment. If the snow was this bad in the valleys, the two canyons we'd need to drive through would be impossible.
I called the breeder to let her know we'd have to wait another day.
Still, the wait was worth it.
The next day, I was the proud owner of a bonnie wee laddie. I named him Mctavish Fritz Stewart.
Mctavish was a dog typical to his breed. He had no problem getting dogs twice his size to back down. He could exploit the tiniest holes in a fence and roam the neighborhood, cavorting with the ladies and eating unattended dog food. For all his faults, I loved him dearly.
I had plans to enter him in Earthdog trials, but to do so, we'd have to visit neighboring states several times a year. That dream never came to pass.
Ten years later, Mctavish developed a skin condition the vet said was allergies. Hair began falling out. His ears occasionally filled with pockets of blood. Once proud ears shriveled into cauliflower ears. Ear infections made him stink. Almost completely bald now, I worried that his time in this world was nearing its end.
I heard a commercial for Dinovite that promised help for problems with dogs with stinky/itchy dogs losing their hair. So we tried it, and it worked! Mostly... His hair almost completely grew back, but his ear infections got worse. They were just too far gone.
His eyesight began to deteriorate in addition to his hearing. It wasn't hard to surprise him. He began having difficulties climbing the stairs. His bathroom breaks became unpredictable. By now, Mctavish, loving nicknamed Tavy by my dad, was thirteen years old.
Then, one weekend, he began pacing. He didn't want to lay down. He would walk through the house, stop for a bit, then keep walking. He would occasionally take naps with his head against a chair or wall. If we carried him to his basket, he'd collapse into a deep sleep. Worst of all he only drank water. He'd push food away, drinking any water within sight.
I made the decision several weeks later to put him to sleep. Maybe I should have done it sooner. Maybe I did it too soon. My writers mind cataloged the vets procedure and minute details of my families greving in case I needed it for later use. My spiritual mind imagined him running through heavenly fields of clover. My philosopher noticed how tissues filled with tears were dry several hours later.
All I know, a little over a week later, is that I'll miss him and I'll never own another Scottie in my life.
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